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Summer heat safety tips for dogs

Updated: Jun 13



Guidelines for keeping dogs safe in the summer heat


Summer presents a great opportunity to have outdoor fun with our dogs. Despite our enjoyment of the sunny weather, it's crucial to ensure that our furry companions do not get too hot. Excessive heat can lead to a dangerous condition known as heatstroke, which is triggered by extended periods in hot or humid conditions and is more common in the summer.


What is heatstroke?

Heatstroke is a critical medical emergency that occurs due to a significant increase in body temperature following extended exposure to high temperatures or intense physical activity.

 

Dogs face an increased risk of heatstroke when left in a hot vehicle, outdoors in hot and humid conditions without shelter, or when engaging in physical activities in hot and humid weather. 


Who is most at risk for heatstroke? 

Although certain dogs are more prone to heat stroke, it is crucial to understand that all dogs can be affected. Dogs rely on panting as their main way of cooling down because they only have sweat glands on their paws.

 

Brachycephalic breeds (such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Boxers, etc.) struggle to pant effectively, making it challenging for them to regulate their body temperature, especially in hot or humid conditions.


Additional care should be necessary for overweight, elderly dogs, as well as those with underlying heart or respiratory issues, and those with thick or dark coats, as they are more susceptible to heatstroke.


What are the signs of heatstroke? 

If your dog is heavily panting, seeking shade, whining, reluctant to play, and drooling, these could be early indicators that they are overheating.

 

Take them to a cool air-conditioned area with water available right away. You can also dampen them with cool water and position them in front of a fan. Ensure that breeds with double coats (such as Siberian Huskies, Pomeranians, Great Pyrenees, etc.) are thoroughly wet down to their skin. 


If your dog persists in panting and drooling excessively, or shows signs of difficulty breathing, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, or collapsing, it is crucial to promptly take them to a veterinary hospital. These symptoms indicate heatstroke, a severe medical emergency that requires immediate attention.

 

How can I prevent my dog from developing heatstroke and other heat-related injuries?

To ensure your dogs stay cool in warmer weather, it is recommended to implement the following strategies:

 

  • Restrict activity to the cooler parts of the day.

Although the sun is strongest around noon, the temperature peaks in the late afternoon, typically between 3 and 5 p.m. Schedule walks for early morning or evening to avoid the hottest periods of the day.

  • Provide access to shady areas 

  • Seeking shade will help prevent excessive heat exposure from direct sunlight.

  • Avoid engaging in strenuous physical activities.

  • It is advisable to refrain from strenuous exercise, especially during the hottest times of the day, very humid conditions, and early summer when pets may not have acclimated to higher temperatures yet.

  • Stay indoors during extreme temperatures.

  • During extreme temperatures, high humidity, or significant temperature fluctuations, it is recommended to keep pets cool indoors, preferably with air conditioning or fans.

  • Provide regular opportunities for water breaks.

  • Always carry water and a collapsible bowl when taking your dog out, and ensure your dog has frequent access to water. Swimming pools or sprinklers can also help keep dogs cool.

  • Exercise caution when walking your dog on hot asphalt or pavement. Blacktop can retain a significant amount of heat, often exceeding the surrounding temperatures. Although dogs' paw pads are more resilient than human skin, they can still sustain burns from walking on hot pavement. A good rule of thumb is if you cannot comfortably place your hand or stand barefoot on the pavement for about 10 seconds, it is too hot for your dog as well.

  • Never leave your dog unattended in a car. Cracking the windows does not effectively cool down the car. Even if the outside temperature is only 70 degrees, the interior temperature of the car can rise by 40 degrees in just an hour. The temperature can escalate rapidly, with the most significant increase occurring within the first 15-30 minutes. While you might consider leaving them in a running, air-conditioned car, it is unsafe to leave dogs unattended in such conditions.

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